Facilities

The Architecture of American Literacy

Article from CityLab about Washington, DC's Spy Library proposed additions to the classic Carnegie Library. The request however was denied by District preservationists.

Across the nation, the libraries that Andrew Carnegie built have been transformed and reused as historical museums, city halls, art centers, and even bars and restaurants, sometimes by dramatic means.

It is a testament to Carnegie's philanthropic investment in cities—the largest in U.S. history—that so many of these buildings are still in use. Yet no one can say exactly how many are standing now.

"As far as I'm aware, the last person to conduct an inventory of Carnegie libraries was Theodore Jones, back in 1997," says Ron Sexton, librarian for the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Almost 20 years later, Jones's book, Carnegie Libraries Across America: A Public Legacy, still offers the best estimate to a question that may not have an exact answer.

Books out, 3D printers in for Reinvented US Libraries

How about that headline folks?

From New Scientist:

IN THE small town of Fayetteville in northern New York, you'll find the local library in an old furniture factory dating from the turn of the 20th century. The refurbished building retains hints of its industrial past: wooden floors, exposed beams, walls lined with carefully labelled tools.

But instead of quietly perusing stacks of books, many of the patrons are crowded around a suite of 3D printers. One machine is midway through a pink mobile phone case; another is finishing up a toy sword.
This is Fayetteville's maker lab – and it may very well be the future of libraries.

In 2011, Fayetteville became the first public library in the US to set up a maker lab. Besides 3D printers, the space features a laser cutter, electronics kits, workshop tools, Raspberry Pi computers and an array of sewing machines. It functions somewhere between a classroom and a start-up incubator – a place where people from all over the region can get involved with state-of-the-art technology.

Since the lab opened, similar spaces have been popping up across the country, including in cities like Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Denver and Detroit. According to the American Library Association, about 1 in 6 libraries now dedicates some of its space to maker tools and activities. The New York Public Library – one of the largest in the country – is watching these developments to inform its upcoming renovation.

New Book: Visual Tour Of America's Most Fascinating Public Libraries

Via Fast Company: In 1994, photographer Robert Dawson began an odds-and-ends project. Whenever he traveled, he'd take pictures of public libraries. Then, a handful of years ago, he started taking trips across the United States just for the libraries--like the shed that served a one-person county in Nebraska, or the Texas library that housed a "petroleum room" with all sorts of George Bush-themed collectibles. He documented everything from a library found in a suburban strip mall to the the air-conditioned institution that functioned more like a refugee camp in sweltering Detroit July.

All told, Dawson journeyed through 48 states, fascinated and inspired by the common role libraries played in society. Libraries, he found, didn't only serve as a refuge for the poor who didn't have any place else to go, but gateways that opened up all corners of the world to anyone inquisitive enough to take a stroll among the shelves. The result is his new book: The Public Library, A Photographic Essay, published by Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-61689-217-3. The book includes 150 photos, plus essays by Bill Moyers, Ann Patchett, Anne Lamott, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, and many more.

Nice slideshow on the author's website.

The Generousity of a New Yorker Who Loved to Read

Simply because she loved to read, Lotte Fields bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library after her death, the library announced on Wednesday.

Mrs. Fields, a New Yorker who died last summer at 89, inherited her wealth from her husband’s family, who were wool merchants.

“One of her great joys was spending the weekend reading with her husband,” said Irwin Cantor, Ms. Fields’s executor, in a statement. “Her donation shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers.” Because Ms. Fields had been a modest – though regular – donor to the library in the past, Tony Marx, the library’s president, said the library was “astounded” by her bequest.

“But we are deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading,” he added. At Ms. Fields’ request, the library will evenly divide the funds between its branch libraries and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street.

Let's hope they don't apply the donation to destroying the classic Bryant Park Main Library.

A New Library for Bethlehem NH

From New Hampshire Public Radio. A sweet story of a sister, a brother and a mystery donation.

Is The NY Public Library Deceiving the Public?

An interesting facebook post by New York State Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner about the NYPL:

I am profoundly disturbed that the leadership of the New York Public Library (NYPL) is using misleading and deceptive language in an attempt to trick New Yorkers into supporting its controversial Central Library Plan for the main 42nd Street Branch.

While purporting to expand public access to the 42nd Street Library, the Central Library Plan is instead a half-baked real estate deal that will result in the selling off of the largest and most used lending library in New York City, the Mid-Manhattan branch at East 40th Street, and the gutting of the fabled stacks at the NYPL’s Main Branch, which house the world-class collections of books and research materials that make the world's leading free research library truly unique. Millions of volumes currently available on-site in the stacks will be warehoused in New Jersey, lessening public access to a public resource unparalleled anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

By issuing a mass appeal yesterday urging New Yorkers to ‘Support … the daily work of NYPL's network of 88 branches (and) a renovated central branch library that provides longer hours, additional public space, and more resources for children, teens, teachers, and job seekers,” the NYPL is claiming that selling off its largest circulating branch and eviscerating the Main Library’s fabled stacks, at an estimated cost to City taxpayers of $150 million, is improving the NYPL for everyday New Yorkers, when the exact opposite is the case. This is truly an example of Orwellian double-speak. The NYPL’s leadership must harbor serious doubts about the merits and practicality of its Central Library plan to employ such a willfully deceptive appeal. -- Read More

The Foundation of All Knowledge

This public library in Samara, Russia needed to have a wall repaired and the powers that be decided to save a little money and use material they already had plenty of…

via Factura

State of the Art Library to Open on NY's Upper West Side in 2015...But Existing Libraries Find Funding Slashed

From New York's "Picture Newspaper", the Daily News:

" The New York Public Library’s newest branch is going to sparkle like fine crystal. "

The W. 53rd St. center will be an airy, vibrant structure with multiple public spaces, modern computer labs, an audio-video collection, and walls of books, library officials said Monday as they unveiled new renderings of the three-story facility designed by Enrique Norten’s TEN Arquitectos.

The new library will also feature a sizable auditorium.

Meanwhile, the city is sucking dry its existing libraries. The Daily News also reports:

"Not only the Queens Library, but the city’s three library systems — Queens, Brooklyn and New York (which serves the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island) — that have had a tough time over the last five years, as Bloomberg has made it an annual ritual to propose major cuts to their budgets. It’s true that much of the cuts are restored by the City Council, but never in full.

One would think that Bloomberg, who supposedly values efficiency and cost-effectiveness, would go out of his way not to put the libraries through budget hell every year.

After all, they have really been able to do more with less: Despite their shrinking resources, over the last 10 years New York’s public libraries have seen a 40% increase in program attendance, and 59% in circulation, according to a Center for an Urban Future study. -- Read More

Congratulations St. Louis on Your Gorgeous New Public Library

Article in the Washington Post Style Section proclaims the new St. Louis Public Library Central Branch "a marvel".

Washington Post Book Reviewer Ron Charles says "Bibliophiles, take note: There’s a spectacular new page on your tour of America’s great book sites: The reopened public library in downtown St. Louis.

The library closed almost three years ago for a $70-million renovation. The results of that work are now open to the public, and the 190,000-square-foot building is the most gorgeous — and usable — library I have ever seen."

Would More People Use the Library if it had a Water Slide?

Rhetorical question from The Atlantic Cities:

In 2010, Poland's National Library performed a survey to determine the reading habits of the Polish citizenry. The results were not buoying: 56 percent of Poles had not read a book in the past year, either in hard or electronic form. Just as bad was that 46 percent had not attempted to digest anything longer than three pages in the previous month – and this included students and university graduates.


So architect Hugon Kowalski conceived of a new kind of library that he hopes will one day be built in Mosina, a town just south of Pozna?. On its first floor, it's all bibliotheca: Patrons squat on moddish stools among stacks and stacks of books. But then it gets weird: In the middle of the library is a glass column full of water and flailing human bodies. Go up one level and you're suddenly in the middle of a vast swimming facility, complete with a snaking water slide that takes whooping swimmers on a ride inside and outside of the building.

Kowalski got to thinking about his watery wonderland of reading after consulting surveys that showed Poles "rarely indicated" a desire to build new libraries. Rather, they wanted to see more sports halls, pools, kindergartens and retail shops. So the architect decided to supply the public with a fun reason to repeatedly visit a mixed-use library facility. If it so happens that bathers exit the pool's locker room with a fierce desire to consume Hans Fallada, that's just a happy side effect of the building's design.

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